Theories Of Worry

Relatively few studies have attempted to apply theories about worry to older adults. Because older adults appear to experience lower levels of arousal due to physiological changes in the autonomic nervous system associated with aging, worry may form a more important component of anxiety in the elderly than in younger adults. One recent investigation tested Wells' cognitive model of pathological worry in a sample of older Spanish adults and found that metaworry (positive and negative beliefs about worry) was a significant predictor of severity of worry and interference of worry in daily life even after controlling for trait anxiety, worry content, and uncontrollability of worry (Nuevo, Montorio & Borkovec, 2004).

A follow-up to this study examined which types of beliefs about worry were predictive of GAD symptoms in a sample of senior center attendees (Montorio, Wetherell & Nuevo, submitted). Positive beliefs about worry, negative beliefs about worry, and beliefs about worry as a demonstration of personal responsibility all distinguished GAD patients from normals, and negative beliefs were a significant independent predictor of GAD severity, even after controlling for level of trait worry.

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